It’s emerged that the UK Government is considering the sale of Channel 4 as it looks to pay down the country’s debt.
Political photographer Steve Back snapped the hapless government official bringing paperwork into Downing Street Thursday. It refers to two secretaries of state, along with Matt Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister. The official is believed to be a member of the Department of Culture, Media & Sport and the latest in a series of ministers and officials that have been caught by photographers outside of Downing Street.
“In your recent meeting with Matt Hancock you agreed that work should proceed to examine the options for extracting greater public value for the Channel 4 Corporation (C4C), focussing on privatisation options in particular,” the document said.
The revelation will come as an embarrassment to culture secretary John Whitingdale – whose department has already launched a review of the role of the BBC – a sale of Channel 4 could be perceived as a further attack on public service broadcasting.
Executives at the broadcaster are believed to be opposed to any form of privatisation. Chairman Lord Burns is currently exploring future options for the broadcaster, but privatisation is not thought to be one of them.
Although a public service broadcaster and a public corporation, Channel 4 is financed entirely by its commercial activities including on-air advertising. The minority remit of its output may present a challenge to any private company looking to acquire the station. It also runs a suite of digital channels that include E4, More 4 and the catch-up portal All 4.